Molina on Civil and Ecclesiastical Power

The term “integralist” was originally applied to Catholic anti-liberal and anti-modernist movements in the 19th and early 20th centuries— such as Ramón Nocedal’s party in Spain, and the Sodalitium Pianum, based in Rome. One of the main goals of such movements was to defend traditional Catholic political teaching against liberalism. Liberals have ever pretended (even to themselves) to separate politics with concern for the end of human life, hence their demand for the so-called “separation of Church and state.” In practice, however, they have ever ordered politics to the false and individualistic conception of the human good implicit in liberalism itself. Hence integralists were always particularly opposed to the liberal demand for the separation of Church and state. Integralist movements took various contingent positions on indifferent matters, on which Catholics are free to disagree with them. But on the central points of Catholic political teaching they were merely defending the perennial and infallible teaching of the Church.

It is this essence of the integralist programs that we defend at The Josias. What we mean by integralism is merely this: Political action is naturally and inevitably directed towards what we take to be good for human beings, and ought therefore to be directed towards the true human good, which is a common good. But the common good of human life is twofold: a temporal common good proportioned to human nature, and the eternal common good proportioned to the divine nature in which human beings participate by grace. Hence there are two authorities directing human beings towards these two common goods: a temporal authority and a spiritual authority. The former is subordinate to the later, just as the temporal common good is subordinate to the spiritual common good. On account of the danger of human pride, it is necessary that these two kinds of authority be placed in the hands of different persons—temporal authority in lay hands, and spiritual authority in the hands of bishops.

Integralism in this basic sense has always been taught by the greatest theologians of the Church— from St. Augustine to St. Bernard to St. Thomas. Apart from a few regalist special pleaders it was universally held by the scholastic theologians. In later scholasticism it was held not only by Thomists such as Cajetan, but also by opponents of Thomism. This is shown by the following translation of a passage from the De iustitia et iure of Luis de Molina, S.J. (1535-1600). Molina was the great opponent of Thomists in the controversies on grace and predestination. “I am convinced,” wrote Charles De Koninck, “that in philosophy the most extreme limits of opposition have been reached by Thomism and Molinism.” And yet, so basic to Catholic tradition is the integralist thesis that on this even Thomists and Molinists agree. — The Editors

Translated by Timothy Wilson

Luis de Molina, S.J.
De iustitia et iure, tract. II, disp. xxi
What power is, and regarding the civil and ecclesiastical power

Having explained dominion in general, in order that we might descend to the parts subject to it, it is necessary that we begin from the dominion of jurisdiction—as much because it is more noble, as because knowledge of it conduces to a better understanding of the titles of the dominion of property. It is also the case, that explicating it is a less involved task than that of explaining the dominion of property. But because the dominion of jurisdiction is a certain kind of power, we shall have to begin from the explication of power.

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Francisco Suárez: The Ecclesiastical power for making laws is more excellent than the civil in its end, origin, and subject

In April we published a translation of Suárez, De legibus, lib. IV, c. ix, on the way in which the civil power is subject to the ecclesiastical. We now publish the preceding chapter of the same book (De legibus, lib. IV, c. viii), which gives the foundation for that teaching— the superior excellence and perfection of spiritual power. The translation is by Timothy Wilson.


Whether the Ecclesiastical power for making laws is more excellent than the civil in its end, origin, subject, and other properties.

1. Although this question has been determined in great part in the previous chapters; nevertheless, in order that the excellence of this power be illustrated better, and so that we might answer some difficulties, we have judged it to be opportune in this place. And so firstly we set down as certain, that this Ecclesiastical power in the Evangelical law is far more excellent than the civil power. This truth can readily be shown from the things which we have adduced in chapter 1 of this book, especially the third conclusion, where we have also brought forward the Doctors. It is also the common opinion of the Fathers: Ignatius, Epistola ad Smirnenses: Now I say, honor God as the author and Lord of all, and the Bishop as the Prince of priests, bearing the image of God, and the principality according to God, and the priesthood according to Christ, and after this, it is necessary also to honor the King.[1] Ambrose, De dignitate sacerdotali, cap. 2: The Episcopal honor and loftiness can be equaled by no comparisons. If you compare it with the splendor of kings, and the diadem of princes, they will be so far inferior, as if you compare leaden metal to the brilliance of gold, for indeed I see the necks of kings and of princes bowed to the knees of the priests. These words are referred and approved by Gelasius in the c. Duo sunt, dist. 96. And Innocent [III], in the c. Solitæ, de maiorit. et obedient., compares these two powers to the Sun and the Moon. And, Chrysostom, in De sacerdotio, lib. III, says: The priesthood is so much more excellent than the kingdom, in the same degree as the spirit and the flesh are distant from one another. This opinion he follows, and amplifies, in his Homilia 60 in Matthæum, saying: If the prince be crowned with the diadem, but accedes unworthily, forbid him; you have greater power than he. And he says many similar things in Homiliæ 4 and 5 on the words of Isaiah 6, I have seen the Lord, etc., and in Homilia 3 ad populum, a little ways from the beginning, where, speaking of Flavian, he prefers him to the Emperor, and says that he has a sword, not indeed of iron, but spiritual. And we shall refer many things from the Fathers in the following chapter. But in the aforementioned places, they almost always speak generally of the priestly power according to its entire amplitude, including the power of order, according to which it embraces the power of censuring, of remitting sins, of creating priests, etc., and simultaneously the power of jurisdiction, which also includes the dispensation of the spiritual treasure of the Church, and the power of binding and loosing through censures, and many other things. This power being considered in such universality, it is clearer than day, that it is far more excellent than the civil power. Now here we speak not only in this mode, but also precisely in discussing these powers under the aspect of legislative power. And thus we also say, that the Ecclesiastical power is preeminent, as Pope Boniface clearly says in Extra., Unam sanctam, de maiorit. et obedient. And the reason can be given from what has been said in chapter 1, that this power (even insofar as it is legislative) is of the supernatural order; while the civil power is natural, as has been shown above: therefore the former is more excellent in its being [esse] and substance. And this difference can be established between these two powers, which is sufficiently clear from the things said in chapter 1, and it shall be further explained forthwith. But in order that the excellence of this power be made clearer, there are some other differences which are to be assigned on the part of the causes, and principles, and actions of both powers.

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by Pope St. Gelasius I



by Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

Pope St. Gelasius I’s letter to the Emperor Anastasius I Famuli vestrae pietatis, better known as Duo Sunt,[1] written in 494, is the classical statement of the Church’s teaching on the relation of the authority of pontiffs to the power of worldly rulers. It was to be quoted and paraphrased again and again by later popes. The key passage has been translated numerous times, but until now there have been only two complete translations into English, neither of which is in the public domain.[2] As the context of the letter is particularly important for understanding the meaning of the key passage correctly, we are pleased to offer the following collaborative translation of the whole letter on The Josias.[3]

St. Gelasius’s Life and Times

St. Gelasius reigned from 492-496, when the Roman Empire had collapsed in the West, and Italy was ruled by barbarians, who stood in an ambiguous relationship to the Byzantine emperor—at times recognizing his authority, at other times styling themselves “kings” of Italy. In 476 (conventionally seen as the end of the Empire) Odoacer, who was already in power, had forced Romulus Augustulus to abdicate. In 493, the year after St. Gelasius’s accession to the See of Peter, the Arian Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great killed Odoacer and established his rule in Italy.[4] In the unsettled situation of Italy, the pope was an important source of order for the city of Rome and beyond. Bronwen Neil and Pauline Allen have shown how St. Gelasius was a “micro-manager” of the ecclesiastical, social, and political affairs of Rome in a manner reminiscent of St. Gregory the Great a century later.[5]

Gelasius was “a Roman born,” as he himself testifies (§1 below), and the Liber pontificalis notes that he was “of African nationality.”[6] In “The African Gelasius,” writes Hugo Rahner, in the slightly histrionic tone of his book on the liberty of the Church, “the ideals of Augustine and the devotion of Leo for the Roman See were combined with a will of steel and eloquence of style.”[7] Not everyone has been so admiring of Gelasius’s style.[8] Nor has everyone credited him with a will of steel.[9] But it is certainly true that Gelasius was formed in the traditions of St. Augustine and of St. Leo the Great. Dionysius Exiguus, who probably did not know Gelasius personally, but knew many others who had known him, writes of him in glowing terms as an exemplary pastor and scholar.[10]

The Acacian Schism

Although Gelasius was pope for less than five years, a large number of documents from his pontificate have come down to us,[11] as well as several letters thought to have been drafted by him as a deacon under his predecessor Pope Felix II/III (reigned 483-492).[12] Famulae vestrae pietatis is by far the most famous of his letters. It was written in the context of the Acacian Schism, the first major schism between Rome and Constantinople.

The schism had originated in the Emperor Zeno’s attempt to reestablish ecclesial unity with the many Egyptian Christians who had rejected the Council of Chalcedon (451). Chalcedon had condemned the monophysite heresiarch Eutyches, and deposed the Alexandrian patriarch Dioscurus, appointing Proterius in his stead.[13] In 457 the Alexandrian mob elected Timothy the Cat patriarch, and murdered Proterius.[14] Timothy died in 477, and his followers elected his ardent disciple Peter the Hoarse to succeed him.[15]

In 482 Zeno sent out a formula of faith, the Henotikon, to the Egyptians.[16] The document was not heterodox in its Christological statements. But it was unacceptable to Rome from an ecclesiological point of view. Its underlying assumption was that the emperor could define the faith (“Caesaropapism”). Moreover, it was “political theology” in the derogatory sense, seeing the unity of faith as being ordered to the unity of the empire, “the origin and composition, the power and irresistible shield of our empire.”[17] But what was least acceptable to Rome was its cavalier dismissal of Chalcedon, the great triumph of the teaching of Pope Leo. After emphasizing that the only creed is the one defined at Nicea I and Constantinople I, Zeno writes, “But we anathematize anyone who has thought, or thinks, any other opinion, either now or at any time, whether at Chalcedon or at any Synod whatsoever.”[18]

Peter the Hoarse accepted the Henotikon, and Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople accepted him into communion, and was therefore excommunicated by Pope Felix II/III in 484.[19] This was the beginning of the Acacian Schism, which was to last till 519. Acacius himself died in 489.[20] His successor, Fravitta tried to assure both Pope Felix and Peter the Hoarse that he was in communion with them.[21] In 491 the Emperor Zeno was succeeded by Emperor Anastasius I (491-518), who had monophysite sympathies and continued Zeno’s policy.[22]

Famuli vestræ pietatis

When Gelasius was elected to the See of Peter in 492 he did not write to the  Emperor Anastasius to announce his election, as was customary. But two Romans, Faustus and Irenaeus, having been in Constantinople as part of a legation from Theodoric the Great, brought word to him that the Emperor was offended by his failure to write. This was the occasion of Famuli vestræ pietatis.

Gelasius begins the letter by excusing himself for not having written before and addresses the Emperor patriotically as the Roman princeps. He hints that his desire to supply “something (however little) lacking from the fullness of the Catholic Faith” in Constantinople, by which he means that he wants to bring the schism to an end (§1). He then clarifies his right to do this by explaining the relation of his “sacred authority” to the “royal power” of the Emperor— this is the celebrated locus classicus for the relation of lay and clerical authority (§2). He further explicates this by laying out the primacy of the Apostolic See—the “firm foundation” laid by God (§3). He then tries to persuade the Emperor to end the schism, by having Acacius’s name deleted from the diptychs, the lists of names prayed for in the Divine Liturgy (a sign of ecclesial communion). Acacius was in Communion with heretics and should be condemned with them. (§§4-9). He rebuffs the objection that removing Acacius from the diptychs would cause a rebellion at Constantinople, and urges the emperor that he is even more bound to combat heresy than he would be bound to combat offenses against temporal laws (§§10-11). Finally, he defends himself against the charge of arrogance, by turning the accusation against those who, contrary to the tradition of the Fathers, refuse to submit to the Apostolic See (§12).

Auctoritas and Potestas

“For there are two, O emperor Augustus, by which the world is principally ruled: the sacred authority (auctoritas) of pontiffs and the royal power (potestas).” This famous line was to be cited in favor of rival medieval theories of the relation of the two: curialists cited it in favor of papal supremacy while their opponents cited it to prove imperial or royal autonomy.[23] More recently, it has been cited by Whig Thomists in favor of American-style “religious freedom.”[24] Its meaning continues to be debated among historians.

The modern debate has tended to focus on the meaning of the terms auctoritas and potestas. Erich Caspar argued that auctoritas meant something like moral influence, whereas potestas meant coercive power:

In Roman constitutional law there was a clear distinction between the conceptually and morally superior auctoritas, founded on tradition and social standing, which the senate, for example, enjoyed, and a potestas equipped with executive power, which in republican times belonged only to the people and was delegated to their officials only for a set period of office.[25]

Caspar approached things from a typically modern understanding of power dynamics, but a similar reading of the auctoritas and potestas distinction has been given by authors less in thrall to Realpolitik. Allan Cotrell notes that some see potestas as “the mere ability to use force without legitimate authority.’”[26] Michael Hanby has recently argued for such a view.[27] According to Hanby auctoritas “possesses no extrinsic force,” but compels “by its own self-evidence.”[28] To the extent that it is not bound and guided by auctoritas, potestas is “an indeterminate force, the brute strength to realize arbitrary possibilities.”[29]

Readings such as Hanby’s cannot, however, be sustained. As Walter Ullmann showed, the popes of the fifth century saw themselves as having the authority to enact laws backed up by sanctions.[30] That is, their auctoritas did possess an extrinsic as well as an intrinsic force. But it is clear also that Gelasius does not see the emperor’s potestas as mere brute force—he sees it also as a moral authority that binds the consciences of subjects: “inasmuch as it pertains to the order of public discipline, even the bishops themselves obey your laws, knowing that rule [imperium] has been bestowed to you from on high” (§2). Auctoritas and potestas are more similar than such authors think. Caspar himself seems to admit as much, when he goes on to argue that Gelasius’s letter was meant to bring the two concepts closer together:

What was new and important was that Gelasius I now defined the state’s potestas and papal auctoritas (which functioned as potestas ligandi et solvendi) as ‘the two things… through which this world is ruled,’ and thereby put them on the same level as commensurable magnitudes in the same conceptual category.[31]

Ullmann argued for a different interpretation of the auctoritas-potestas distinction. According to him, auctoritas meant sovereign authority, whereas potestas meant delegated authority:

Auctoritas is the faculty of shaping things creatively and in a binding manner, whilst potestas is the power to execute what the auctoritas has laid down. The Roman senate had auctoritas, the Roman magistrate had potestas. The antithesis between auctoritas and potestas stated already by Augustus himself, shows the ‘outstanding charismatic political authority’ which his auctoritas contained. It was sacred, since everything connected with Roman emperorship was sacred emanating as it did from his divinity. It was therefore all the easier to transfer these characteristically Roman ideas to the function of the Pope and to his auctoritas.[32]

While Ullmann is essentially right about how Gelasius saw his relation the emperor, he is wrong to put so much weight on the semantic distinction between auctoritas and potestas. Ernst Stein and Aloysius K. Ziegler showed convincingly that Gelasius did not mean to make any semantic distinction between auctoritas and potestas at all. For reasons of style he did not wish to use the same word twice in the same sentence, and therefore he used synonyms. In his damning review essay on Caspar, Stein points out that in Tractate IV, written only two years after Famuli vestræ pietatis, Gelasius writes of “both powers” (potestas utraque), showing that he was quite willing to use potestas to refer to the pontifical auctoritas.[33] Ziegler, for his part, looks at the letters of Felix II/III, drafted by Gelasius as a deacon, and finds conclusive evidence for Stein’s thesis in Felix’s Epistle XV:

These things, most reverent Emperor, I do not wrest from you as vicar of the blessed Peter, by the authority of the apostolic power as it were [auctoritate velut apostolicae potestatis], but I confidently implore you as an anxious father desiring that the welfare and prosperity of my most clement son endure long.[34]

Perhaps Epistle XV is using the two terms in slightly different senses, but it is clear that it sees both as belonging to the Apostolic See.[35]

Gelasius’s Integralism

George Demacopoulos has recently argued that the scholarly focus on the semantic distinction between auctoritas and potestas is regrettable, since with “that singular focus, scholars have failed to acknowledge many of the other significant moves that Gelasius makes in the letter.”[36] On that I think he is right. He is wrong, however, to fault Caspar and Ullmann (especially the later) for reading Gelasius too much in the light of the subsequent development of the papacy.[37] Demacopoulos argues on historical-critical grounds, but it is hard not to see his approach as being motivated by Greek Orthodox suspicion of Catholic teaching on the papacy. Even from a purely historical perspective, it is helpful to look at the developments to which a teaching gives rise to understand it better. As St. John Henry Newman put it, the principle that “the stream is clearest near the spring” does not apply to the development of a teaching or belief, “which on the contrary is more equable, and purer, and stronger, when its bed has become deep, and broad, and full.”[38] And, of course, this is all the more true if it is a question of interpreting the authoritative teachings of the Church. Since the bishops of Rome teach under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, their pronouncements can only be adequately understood in the light of later developments. Thus Gelasius ought to be read in the light of the authoritative teachings of St. Gregory VII, Innocent III, and Boniface VIII.

It is, therefore, all the more significant that, despite his methodological shortcomings, Demacopoulos ultimately comes to a reading of Gelasius very close to Ullmann’s. He argues, namely, that Gelasius is indeed teaching a certain subordination of the imperial under the pontifical power:

Among Gelasius’ impressive rhetorical demonstrations is his transformation of the argument for the divine derivation of imperial authority into an argument for the subordination of the emperor to the priesthood. […] Noting that imperial governance is a beneficium from God for which the emperor will be accountable, Gelasius quickly notes that he too will personally be required to render an account before God for whether or not Anastasius properly administers the imperial beneficium. In other words, Gelasius boldly inserts himself into the ruling/responsibility paradigm to imply that his own responsibility (and, therefore, his own authority) was superior to that of the emperor. The emperor, of course, retains a certain responsibility for the Roman population, but above that hierarchical paradigm exists another, more exalted layer, placing the pope between the emperor and God.[39]

The “hierarchical paradigm” to which Demacopoulos refers is founded on a teleological understanding of society and authority. No one grasped this more firmly than Walter Ullmann. That is why, despite his exaggeration of the auctoritas-potestas distinction, I still think Ullmann the best reader of Gelasius.

“Gelasius,” Ullman argues, “bequeathed to all Papal generations a set of ideas based upon an interpretation of history in the light of Christian teleology.”[40] This Christian teleology sees the Church as a body with many members who have distinct functions related to the single spiritual end of communion with God. The members of this body belong to it with all that they are: “Christianity seizes the whole of man and cannot, by its very nature, be confined to certain departmental limits.”[41] The Christian Body therefore “is not merely a pneumatic or sacramental or spiritual body, but also an organic, concrete and earthy society.”[42] In this visible society there are certain functions which are immediately directed to its end, what Gelasius calls “the distribution of the venerable mysteries,” (infra §2) and there are others which are mediately directed to its end—everything, for example, that serves the preservation of bodily life. It is essential that those “temporal” functions remain mediately ordered to the final end: “in the Christian corpus the administration of the temporal things should be undertaken, in order to bring about the realization of the purpose of the corpus.”[43] In other words, “in a Christian society all human actions have an essentially religious ingredient.”[44] What Gelasius is doing therefore, is not clarifying the relation of church and state (as Whig Thomists suppose), but rather the relation of clerical and lay power within the one Christian body. In the Henotikon Zeno had implicitly presented himself as the head of the whole Christian mundus, but Gelasius is teaching his successor that he is not qualified for headship:

[Since] in a Christian society, of which the emperor through baptism is a member, every human action has a definite purpose and in so far has an essential religious ingredient, the emperors should submit their governmental actions to the ecclesiastical superiors.[45]

Turning to Tractate IV, Ullmann shows that Gelasius saw the purpose of the royal power in the Christian world as the care of temporal matters, so that clerics “are not distracted by the pursuit of these carnal matters.”[46] Thus, Ullmann concludes,

The direction of [the] royal power by those who are, within the corporate union of Christians, qualified to do so, is as necessary as the direction of the whole body corporate. In this way this body will fulfil the purpose for which it was founded. The material or corporeal or temporal element in this body demands the guidance, that is orientation and government, by the spiritual or sacramental element of this self-same body.[47]

R.W. Dyson has shown in detail how this Gelasian teaching on the relation of the temporal to the spiritual was based on premises which he found in his North African tradition: in St. Augustine’s proportioning of spiritual and carnal needs onto the offices of bishops and Roman officials. Augustine had not followed those principles through to their ultimate conclusions, but it was an easy step for Gelasius to take, since it is obvious that spiritual goods exceed bodily ones.[48]

The same point was made earlier by Hugo Rahner:

What Augustine regarded as a lofty ideal, Gelasius made tangible: the ideal of the state as the Church’s helper, of two powers in peaceful collaboration “ruling the world”. Gelasius’ genius lay in the fact that he did not declare that the two powers deriving directly from God, Creator and Savior, should exist side by side, an impossible situation and one repugnant to God’s will, but rather that they should be hierarchically ordered, like soul and body, the spiritual superior to the material, because only in subordination is the material power’s true worth maintained.[49]

The functional division of the two powers is not a division into separate spheres that never overlap. While Gelasius sees the purpose of the emperor as being primarily the regulation of temporal affairs, he is also emphatic that the emperor must use imperial force to help the Church more directly in the preservation of the faith from charity. In Famuli vestræ pietatis he argues that, because Anastasius curbs popular tumults arising from secular causes, so much more should he restrain heretics and thereby “lead them back into the Catholic and Apostolic communion” (§10). He is essentially calling for the emperor to act as the bracchium sæculare of the Church:

If anyone perhaps were to attempt something against public laws (perish the thought!), for no reason would you have been able to suffer it. Do you not reckon it to concern your conscience that the people subject to you should be driven back from the pure and sincere devotion of Divinity? (§10)

Far from being a Whig avant la lettre, Gelasius was in fact what we would now call an integralist.


Translated by HHG et al.

Pope St. Gelasius I to the Emperor Anastasius.

§ 1 Your Piety’s servants, my sons, the master Faustus and Irenaeus, illustrious men, and their companions who exercise the public office of legate, when they returned to the City, said that Your Clemency asked why I did not send my greeting to you in written form. Not, I confess, by my design; but since those who had been dispatched a little while ago from the regions of the East had spread [word] throughout the whole City that they had been denied permission of seeing me by your commands, I thought that I ought to refrain from [writing] letters, lest I be judged burdensome rather than dutiful. You see, therefore, that it came not from my dissembling, but rather from proper caution, lest I inflict annoyance on one minded to reject me. But when I learned that the benevolence of Your Serenity had, as indicated above, expected a word from my humility, then I truly recognized that I would not unjustly be blamed if I remained silent. For, glorious son, I as a Roman born love, honor, and accept you as the Roman Prince. And as a Christian I desire to have knowledge according to the truth with one who has zeal for God. And as the Vicar of the Apostolic See (of whatever quality), whenever I see something (however little) lacking from the fullness of the Catholic Faith, I attempt to supply it by moderate and timely suggestions. For the dispensing of the divine word has been enjoined on me: «woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel» (1 Cor 9:16). Because, if the vessel of election, blessed Paul the Apostle, is afraid and cries out, how much more urgently must I fear if in my preaching I omit anything from the ministry of preaching which has been divinely inspired and handed down by the piety of the fathers.

§ 2 I pray your Piety not to judge [my] duty toward the divine plan as arrogance. Far be it from the Roman Prince, I beg, that he judge the truth that he senses in his heart to be an injury. For there are two, O emperor Augustus, by which the world is principally ruled: the sacred authority of pontiffs and the royal power. Among which how much heavier is the burden of priests, such that they will have to render an account to the Lord at the time of judgment even for those very kings. For you know, O most merciful son, that although by dignity you preside over the human race, nevertheless you devoutly bow your neck to the leaders of divine matters, and from them you await the causes of your salvation, and you recognize that, in partaking of the celestial sacraments, and being disposed to them (as is appropriate), you must be submitted to the order of religion rather than rule over it. Therefore you know that in these matters you depend on their judgement, not willing to force them to your will. For if, inasmuch as it pertains to the order of public discipline, even the bishops themselves obey your laws, knowing that rule [imperium] has been bestowed to you from on high, lest they seem in mundane things to oppose the eminent sentence; with what passion, I ask, does it become you to obey those, who have been assigned for the distribution of the venerable mysteries? Just as the danger does not fall upon pontiffs lightly, to have been silent on behalf of the cult of the Divinity, which is fitting; thus there is no slight peril to those who (perish the thought!) when they ought to obey, look askance. And if it is settled that the faithful submit their hearts to all the priests in general who pass on divine things rightly, how much more must they submit to the prelate of that See, whom the highest Divinity willed also to be preëminent above all priests, and which the piety of the universal Church subsequently celebrated.

§ 3 Clearly, wherever Your Piety turns, no one at all has been able to raise himself to the privilege or confession of that one, whom the voice of Christ has put over all, who has been always confessed and venerated by the Church, and has the first devotion. Those things which have been constituted by divine judgement can be attacked by human presumption, but they cannot be conquered by any power. And if only boldness would not be so pernicious against those struggling, as those things which have been fixed by the very founder of sacred religion cannot be dislodged by any force: the foundation of God stands firm (2 Tim 2:19). For is religion, when it is infested by some [persons], able to be overcome by novelties? Does it not rather remain unconquered by the thing supposed to be able to defeat it? And I ask you therefore, may they desist, who under your aegis run about headlong seeking the disruption of the church, which is not permitted: or at least that these should in no way achieve those things which they wickedly desire, and not keep their measure before God and men.

§ 4 For this reason, before God, I beg, adjure, and exhort your piety purely and earnestly that you not receive my request disdainfully: I say again: I ask that you hear me beseeching you now in this life rather than (later) accusing you—perish the thought!—before the divine tribunal. Nor is it hidden from me, O Emperor Augustus, what the devotion of Your Piety has been in private life. You always chose to be a participator of the eternal promise. Wherefore, I pray you, be not angry with me, if I love you so much that I want you to have that reign, which you have temporarily, forever, and that you who rule the age, might be able to rule with Christ. Certainly, by your laws, Emperor, you do not allow anything to perish, nor do you allow any damage to be done to the Roman name. Surely then it is not true, Excellent Prince, who desires not only the present benefits of Christ but also the future ones, that you would suffer anyone under your aegis to bring loss to religion, to truth, to the sincerity of the Catholic Communion, and to the Faith? By what faith (I ask you) will you ask reward of him there, whose loss you do not prohibit here?

§ 5 Be they not heavy, I pray thee, those things that are said for your eternal salvation. You have read it written: «the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy» (Prov. 27:8). I ask your piety to receive what I say into your mind in the same sentiment in which I say it. No one should deceive Your Piety. What the Scriptures witness figuratively through the prophet is true: «One is my dove, one is my perfect one» (Cant. 6:8), one is the Christian faith, which is Catholic. But that faith is truly Catholic, which is divided by a sincere, pure, and unspotted communion from all the perfidious and their successors and associates. Otherwise there would not be the divinely commanded distinction, but a deplorable muddle. Nor would there be any reason left, if we allow this contagion in anyone, not to open wide the gate to all the heresies. For who in one thing offends, is guilty of all (James 2:10); and: who despises little things shall little by little fall (Sirach 19:1)

§ 6 This is what the Apostolic See vigorously guards against, that since the pure root is the glorious confession of the Apostle, it might not be soiled by any fissure of perversity, nor by any direct contagion. For if something like that were to happen (which God forbid, and which we trust is impossible), how could we dare to resist any error, or from whence could we request the correction to those in error? Moreover, if Your Piety denies that the people of a single city can be brought together in peace, what would we do with the whole world, if (God forbid) it were to be deceived by our prevarication? If the whole world has been set right, despising the profane traditions of its fathers, how could the people of a single city not be converted if the preaching of the faith persevere. Therefore, glorious Emperor, do I not will the peace, I who would embrace it even if it came at the price of my blood? But, I prithee, let us hold in our mind of what sort the peace ought to be; not any kind, but a truly Christian peace. For how can there be a true peace where chaste charity is lacking? But how charity ought to be, the Apostle evidently preaches for us, who says, Charity is from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith (1 Tim. 1:5). How, I pray thee, shall it be from a pure heart, if it is poisoned by an external contagion? How shall it be from a good conscience, if it is commingled with depraved and evil things? How shall it be from an unfeigned faith if it remains united with the perfidious? While these things have often been said by us, it is nevertheless necessary to repeat them incessantly, and not to be silent as long as the name of “peace” continues to be put forward as an excuse; it is not for us (as the is enviously asserted) to make “peace”, but we nevertheless teach that we want that true peace, which is the only peace, apart from which none other can be shown.

§ 7 Certainly if the dogma of Eutyches, against which the caution of the Apostolic See vigilantly watches, is believed to be consistent with the saving Catholic faith, then it ought to be brought forward plainly and asserted and supported with as much force as possible, for then it will be possible to show not only how inimical it is to the Christian faith itself, but also how many and how deadly are the heresies it contains in its dregs. But if rather (as we are confident you will) you judge that this dogma should be excluded from Catholic minds, I ask you why you do not also suppress the contagion of those who have been shown to be contaminated by it? As the Apostle says: Are only those who do things that ought not to be done guilty, and not also they that consent to them that do them? (cf. Rom 1:32). Accordingly, just as one cannot accept a participant in perversity without equally approving of the perversity, so too, one cannot refute perversity while admitting an accomplice and partisan of perversity.

§ 8 Certainly, by your laws, accomplices of crimes and harbourers of thieves are judged to be bound equally by the same punishment; nor is he considered to have no part in a crime, who, though he did not do it himself, nevertheless accepts the familiarity and the alliance of the doer. Accordingly, when the Council of Chalcedon, celebrated for the Catholic and Apostolic faith and the true communion, condemned Eutyches, the progenitor of those detestable ravings, it did not leave it at that, but likewise also struck down his consort Dioscorus and the rest. In this way, therefore, just as in the case of every heresy there is no ambiguity about what has always been done or what is being done: their successors Timothy [the Cat], Peter [the Hoarse], and the other Peter, the Antiochian, have been cut out— not individually by councils called again to deal with them singly, but once and for all as a consequence of the regular acts of the synod. Therefore, as it has not been clear that even those who were their correspondents and accomplices are all bound with a similar strictness, and are by right wholly separated from the Catholic and Apostolic communion, We hereby declare that Acacius, too, is to be removed from communion with Us, since he preferred to cast in his lot with perfidy rather than to remain in the authentic Catholic and Apostolic communion (though for almost three years he has been authoritatively advised by letters of the Apostolic See, lest it should come to this). But after he went over to another communion, nothing was possible except that he should be at once cut off from association with the Apostolic See, lest on his account, if We delayed even a little, We also should seem to have come into contact with the perfidious. But when he was struck with such a blow, did he come to his senses, did he promise correction, did he emend his error? Would he have been coerced by more lenient treatment, when even harsh blows left no impression? While he tarries in his perfidy and damnation, it is both impossible to use his name in the liturgy of the church, and unnecessary to tolerate any external contact with him. Wherefore he will be led in good faith away from the heretical communion into which he has mixed himself, or there will be no choice but to drive him away with them.

§ 9 But if the bishops of the East murmur, that the Apostolic See did not apply such judgments to them, as if they had either convinced the Apostolic See that Peter [the Hoarse] was to be accepted as legitimate, or had not yet been fully complicit in this unheard-of acceptation: just as they cannot demonstrate that he was free of heretical depravity, neither can they in anyway excuse themselves, being in communion with heretics. If perhaps they should add that they all with one voice reported the reception of Peter [the Hoarse] by Acacius to the Apostolic See, then by the same token they know how he responded to them. But the authority of the Apostolic See— that in all Christian ages it has been set over the universal Church— is confirmed both by a series of canons of the Fathers, and by manifold tradition. But even hence, whether anyone should prevail to usurp anything for himself against the ordinances of the Synod of Nicaea, this can be shown to the college of the one communion, not to the opinion of external society. If anyone has confidence amongst them, let him go out into the midst, and disprove and instruct the Apostolic See concerning each part. Therefore let his name [Acacius] be removed from our midst, which works the separation of churches far from Catholic communion, in order that sincere peace of faith and of communion should be repaired, and unity: and then let it competently and legitimately be investigated which of us either has risen up or struggles to rise up against venerable antiquity. And then shall appear who by modest intention guards the form and tradition of the elders, and who irreverently leaping beyond these, reckons himself able to become equal by robbery.

§ 10 But if it is proposed to me that the character [persona] of the Constantinopolitan people makes it impossible (it is said) that the name of scandal, that is Acacius, be removed; I am silent, because with both the heretic Macedonius formerly having been driven out, and Nestorius recently having been thrown out, the Constantinopolitan people have elected to remain Catholic rather than be retained by affection for their condemned greater prelates. I am silent, because those who had been baptized by these very same condemned prelates, remaining in the Catholic faith, are disturbed by no agitation. I am silent, because for ludicrous things the authority of Your Piety now restrains popular tumults; and thus much more for the necessary salvation of their souls the multitude of the Constantinopolitan city obeys you, if you princes should lead them back unto the Catholic and Apostolic communion. For, Emperor Augustus, if anyone perhaps were to attempt something against public laws (perish the thought!), for no reason would you have been able to suffer it. Do you not reckon it to concern your conscience that the people subject to you should be driven back from the pure and sincere devotion of Divinity? Finally, if the mind of the people of one city is not reckoned to be offended if divine things (as the matter demands) are corrected— how much more does it hold that, lest divine things should be offended, we ought not (nor can we) strike the pious faith of all those of the Catholic name?

§ 11 And nevertheless these same ones demand that they should be healed by our will. Therefore they allow that they can be cured by competent remedies: otherwise (Heaven forfend!) by crossing over into their ruin, we can perish with them, whereas we cannot save them. Now here I leave to your conscience under divine judgement what must rather be done: whether, as We desire, we should return all at once unto certain life; or, as those demand, we should tend unto manifest death.

§ 12 But still they strain to call the Apostolic See proud and arrogant for furnishing them with medicines. The quality of the languishing often has this: that they should accuse rather the medics calling them back to healthful things by fitting observations, than that they themselves should consent to depose or reprove their noxious appetites. If we are proud, because we minister fitting remedies of souls, what are those to be called who resist? If we are proud who say that obedience must be given to paternal decrees, by what name should those be called who oppose them? If we are puffed up, who desire that the divine cult should be served with pure and unblemished tenor; let them say how those who think even against divinity should be named. Thus also do the rest, who are in error, reckon us, because we do not consent to their insanity. Nevertheless, truth herself indicates where the spirit of pride really stands and fights.

[1] Sometimes also as Ad Anastasium, Epistle XII (Thiel), or Epistle VIII (Migne).

[2] Matthew Briel, trans. in: George E. Demacopoulos, The Invention of Peter: Apostolic Discourse and Papal Authority in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), pp. 173-180; Bronwen Neil and Pauline Allen, trans., The Letters of Gelasius I (492-496) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), pp. 73-80.

[3] The translation was made by numerous online friends of The Josias in a shared google spreadsheet. The style is therefore uneven. For technical reasons we used Migne’s edition in PL 59, col. 41-47, but we have corrected it in some places with reference to Thiel’s critical edition: Andreas Thiel, ed., Epistolae Romanorum pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt: a S. Hilaro usque ad Pelagium II., vol. 1 (Braunsberg: E. Peter, 1867), pp. 349-358. For the paragraph numbering we have followed Thiel.

[4] For an account of the period, see: Guy Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chs. 9-10.

[5] Neil and Allen, trans., The Letters of Gelasius I, Introduction.

[6] Neil and Allen, trans., The Letters of Gelasius I, p. 71.

[7] Hugo Rahner, S.J., Church and State in Early Christianity, trans. Leo Donald Davis, S.J. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1961), p. 151. As Rahner notes, his book was originally written at a time “when the struggle between Church and state in Nazi Germany was at its height” (p. xi), which goes someway in explaining its tone.

[8] Bronwen Neil and Pauline Allen call it “sententious and pompous” and complain that it is repetitive and overburdens subordinate clauses: The Letters of Gelasius I, p. 67.

[9] George Demacopoulos portrays him as an ineffectual blusterer The Invention of Peter, ch. 3.

[10] See: Aloysius K. Ziegler, “Pope Gelasius I and His Teaching on the Relation of Church and State,” in: The Catholic Historical Review 27.4 (1942), pp. 412-437, at pp. 416-417.

[11] Thiel’s edition contains 43 letters, 49 fragments, and six tractates, filling over 300 pages: Thiel, Epistolae, vol. 1, pp. 285-618.

[12] See: Mario Spinelli, s.v. “Gelasius I,” in: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 3rd ed., vol. IV, eds. Walter Kasper, et al. (Freiburg: Herder, 1995), col. 401-402.

[13] Dioscurus had (verbally) agreed with Eutyches that there was only one nature in Christ. In Alexandria this was held to be the orthodox position, since St. Cyril of Alexandria had used the formula μία φύσις το θεο λόγου σεσαρκωμένη (“one incarnate nature of God the Logos”). Chalcedon, however, defined that Christ was in two natures (ν δύο φύσεσιν). It is now generally held that the disagreement is based on an equivocal use of the word φύσις (nature). See: Theresia Hainthaler, s.v. “Monophysitismus,” in: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, vol. VII, (1998), col. 418-421; W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement: Chapters in the History of the Church in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972).

[14] Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement, p. 155.

[15] Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement,, p. 174.

[16] For the story of the Henotikon see: Ibid., pp. 174-183.

[17] Zeno, Henotikon, in: The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus, trans. Michael Whitby (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000), III,14; pp. 147-149, at p. 147.

[18] Zeno, Henotikon, p. 149.

[19] One of the orthodox “Sleepless Monks” was able to pin the pope’s excommunication to Acacius’s vestments during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy: Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement, pp. 182-183.

[20] Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement,, p. 190.

[21] Neil and Allen, trans., The Letters of Gelasius I, pp. 37-38.

[22] Rahner, Church and State, pp. 154-155.

[23] See: Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), p. 10; Robert Louis Benson, “The Gelasian Doctrine: Uses And Transformations,” in: George Makdisi, et al., eds., La notion d’autorité au Moyen Age: Islam, Byzance, Occident: Colloques internationaux de La Napoule, session des 23-26 octobre 1978 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), pp. 13-44.

[24] See: John Courtney Murray, S.J., We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960), especially pp. 202-203; George Weigel, “Catholicism and Democracy: Parsing the Other Twentieth-Century Revolution,” in: Michael Novak, William Brailsford, and Cornelis Heesters, eds. A Free Society Reader: Principles for the New Millennium (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2000), pp. 141-165, at pp. 150-151. Cf. my critique of the Whig Thomists: “Integralism and Gelasian Dyarchy,” in: The Josias, March 3, 2016: (accessed March 28, 2020), part 4.

[25] Erich Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums von den Anfängen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft, vol. 2 (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1933), p. 67 (translation my own).

[26] Alan Cottrell, “Auctoritas and Potestas: A Reevaluation of the Correspondence of Gelasius I on Papal-Imperial Relations,” in: Medieval Studies 55 (1993), pp. 95-109, at p. 96. (This is not Cottrell’s own view).

[27] Michael Hanby, “For and Against Integralism,” in: First Things 301.4 (2020), pp. 43-50. Hanby does not explicitly mention Gelasius, but it is clear that the Gelasian teaching is in the background of his discussion of auctoritas and potestas, especially since he quotes Walter Ullmann’s interpretation of Gelasius (p. 45).

[28] Hanby, “For and Against Integralism,” p. 45.

[29] Hanby, “For and Against Integralism,” p. 45.

[30] Walter Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1962), pp. 12-13, note 5.

[31] Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, p. 66.

[32] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 21.

[33] Ernst Stein, “La Période Byzantine de la Papauté,” in: The Catholic Historical Review 21.2 (1935), pp. 129-163, at p. 135. Hanby complains about me: “Waldstein does not think philosophically about the distinction between auctoritas and potestas, which he treats more or less synonymously” (Hanby, “For and Against Integralism,” p. 47). I wonder if he would make the same complaint about St. Gelasius in Tractate IV.

[34] Ziegler, “Pope Gelasius I and His Teaching,” p. 432, note 66; the quotation from Felix can be found in: Thiel, Epistolae, vol. 1, p. 272; translation in: Jeffrey Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages, 476-752 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), p. 62.

[35] In the light of the subsequent development of Church teaching one could save something like Erich Caspar’s interpretation as follows: The relationship between the spiritual and temporal powers in temporal matters would be modeled on the relationship between the senate and the magistrates in the Republic. Auctoritas would mean moral authority. Potestas would be coercive force, prescinding from whether it is united to moral authority or not. So it would be wrong to see potestas as mere violence but violence would be included as well as rightly ordered force. The pope would have both auctoritas and potestas in the spiritual order. In the temporal order he would exercise auctorias, and his auctoritas would guarantee the right order of the potestas of temporal rulers. See: Thomas Crean and Alan Fimister, Integralism: A Manual of Political Philosophy (Neunkirchen-Seelscheid: Editiones Scholasticae, 2020), p. 72.

[36] Demacopoulos, The Invention of Peter, p. 90.

[37] Demacopoulos, The Invention of Peter, pp. 8-9.

[38] John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 8th ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and co., 1891), p. 40.

[39] Demacopoulos, The Invention of Peter, pp. 90-91; cf. Ullmann’s similar argument in The Growth of Papal Government, pp. 23-26.

[40] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 28.

[41] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 11.

[42] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 3.

[43] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 12.

[44] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 20.

[45] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 22.

[46] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 24.

[47] Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government, p. 28.

[48] Robert W. Dyson, St. Augustine of Hippo: The Christian Transformation of Political Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2005), ch. 5.

[49] Rahner, Church and State, p. 157.


Leo XIII: Reputantibus saepe

In April 1897 Count Kasimir Felix Badeni, Prime Minister of Cisleithania (the part of Austria-Hungary represented in the Vienna Reichsrat) published an ordinance requiring civil servants in Bohemia to use Czech as well as German in official business. The measure was meant to appease Czech nationalists, but it caused outrage among German civil servants—especially in predominantly German speaking parts of Bohemia. The controversy caused the fall of Badeni’s ministry in November of the same year, and continued through the short ministries of Gautsch, Thun and Clary-Aldringen which followed in quick succession. Pope Leo XIII was concerned by the conflict, and in 1901 sent the following encyclical to Bishop Theodor Kohn of Olomouc (Olmütz ). He does not deny the natural inclination to speak the tongue of one’s own nation (gens), but emphasizes that national rights have to be subordinated to the common good of the whole polity (res publica). Finally, the supernatural brotherhood of all in Christ should overcome all partisan feeling. Though written for a particular occasion, Pope Leo’s teaching has a wide application.

The English translation is taken from the Vatican website, corrected with a view to the Latin original.



To Our Venerable Brothers Theodore, Archbishop of Olomouc,
and the Archbishops and Bishops of Bohemia and Moravia.

As We reflect often on the condition of your churches, it seems to Us that at this moment nearly everywhere everything is full of fear, full of concern. However, this situation is more serious in your case because, while the Catholic cause is exposed to the hatred and cunning of external enemies, domestic issues also divide it. For while heretics both openly and covertly endeavor to spread error among the faithful, seeds of discord grow daily among Catholics themselves – the surest means to hinder strength and break down constancy.

2. Surely the strongest grounds for dissension, especially in Bohemia, are to be found in the languages which each person, according to his origin, employs. For it is implanted by nature that everyone wishes to preserve the language inherited from his ancestors.

3. To be sure, We have decided to refrain from settling this controversy. Indeed one cannot find fault with the preservation of one’s ancestral tongue, if it is kept within defined limits. However, what is valid for other private rights, must be held to apply here also: namely, that the common utility of the polity [communis rei publicae utilitas] must not suffer from their preservation. It is, therefore, the task of those who are in charge of the state to preserve intact the rights of individuals, in such a way that the common good of the polity [commune tamen civitatis bonum] be secured and allowed to flourish.

4. As far as We are concerned, Our duty admonishes Us to take constant care that religion, which is the chief good of souls and the source of all other goods, not be endangered by controversies of this nature.

5. Therefore we earnestly exhort your faithful, although of various regions and tongues, to preserve that far more excellent kinship which is born from the communion of faith and common sacraments. For whoever are baptized in Christ, have one Lord and one faith; they are one body and one spirit, insofar as they are called to one hope. It would be truly disgraceful that those who are bound together by so many holy ties and are seeking the same city in heaven should be torn apart by earthly reasons, rivaling with one another, as the Apostle says, and hating one another. Therefore, that kinship of souls which comes from Christ must constantly be inculcated in the faithful and all partiality must be eradicated. “For greater indeed is the paternity of Christ than that of blood: for the fraternity of blood touches the likeness only of the body; the fraternity of Christ, however, conveys unanimity of heart and spirit, as is written: One was the heart and one the spirit of the multitude of believers.”(1)

6. In this matter the holy clergy should surpass in example all others. Indeed, it is at variance with their office to mingle in such dissensions. If they should reside in places inhabited by people of different races or languages, unless they abstain from any appearance of contention, they may easily incur hatred and dislike from both sides. Nothing could be more detrimental to the exercise of their sacred function than this. The faithful, to be sure, should recognize in fact and practice that the ministers of the Church are concerned only with the eternal affairs of souls and do not seek what is theirs, but only what is Christ’s.

7. If, then, it is well known to all alike that the disciples of Christ are recognized by the love that they have for one another, the holy clergy must observe this same love mutually among themselves far more. For not only are they thought, and deservedly so, to have drunk much more deeply from the charity of Christ, but also because each one of them, in addressing the faithful, ought to be able to use the words of the Apostle, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”(2)

8. We can easily admit that this is very difficult in practice, unless the elements of discord are erased from their souls at an early time when they, who aspire to the clerical state, are formed in our seminaries. Therefore, you must diligently see to it that the students in seminaries early learn to love one another in a fraternal love and from a genuine heart, as those born not from a corruptible seed but an incorruptible one through the word of the living God.(3) Should arguments break out, restrain them strongly and do not allow them to persist in any way; thus those who are destined for the clergy, if they cannot be of one language because of different places of origin, still may certainly be of one heart and one spirit.

9. From this union of wills, indeed, which must be conspicuous in the clerical order, as we have already intimated, this advantage among others will follow: that the ministers of the sacraments will more efficaciously warn the faithful not to exceed the limits in preserving and vindicating the rights proper to each race [gentis], or by excessive partisanship not to do violence to justice and overlook the common advantages of the polity [communes reipublicae utilitates]. For we think that this, according to the circumstances of your various regions, should be the principal task of priests, to exhort the faithful, in season and out, to love one another; they should warn them constantly that he is not worthy of the name of Christian who does not fulfill in spirit and action the new command given by Christ that we love one another as He has loved us.

10. Certainly, he does not fulfill it, who thinks that charity pertains only to those who are related in tongue or race. For if, as Christ says, you love those who love you, do not the publicans do so? and if you salute your brothers only, do not the pagans do so?(4) For to be sure a characteristic of Christian charity is that it extends equally to all; for, as the Apostle warns, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord of all, rich to all who invoke him.(5)

11. May God, who is Love, kindly grant that all be united in their thoughts and in their convictions, thinking the same and having no contention; grant that in humility they may think each other better than themselves, each not looking to his own interests, but to those of others.

12. May the Apostolic blessing, which we grant most lovingly in the Lord, to you, Venerable Brothers, and the faithful committed to each of you, be a token of this and also of Our benevolence.

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, 20 August 1901, in the 24th year of Our Pontificate.



1. St. Maximus, among the sermons of St. Augustine, 100.

2. Phil 3.17.

3. Pt 1.22 f.

4. Mt 5.46 f.

5. Rom 10.12.

Header Image: The Austrian Reichsrat

Ang Integrismo sa Tatlong Pangungusap

Ang Integrismo Catolico ay isang tradisyon ng kaisipan na itinatanggi ang paghihiwalay ng liberalismo ng politika mula sa pakikialam sa huling layunin ng buhay ng tao, at naniniwala naman na dapat patnubayan ng pamamahalang politikal ang tao patungo sa huling layuning niya. Ngunit dahil nahahati sa dalawa ang layunin ng buhay ng tao – isang pansamantala o temporal, at isang walang-hanggan – naniniwala ang integrismo na may dalawa ring kapangyarihan na namamahala sa tao: ang kapangyarihang temporal, at ang kapangyarihang espiritwal. At dahil naman ang layuning pansamantala ay nakapasailalim sa layuning walang-hanggan, nararapat lamang na ang kapangyarihang temporal ay ipasailalim rin sa kapangyarihang espiritwal.

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Paul VI: Credo of the People of God

Introductory Note

June 30, 2018, marks the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s proclamation of the Credo of the People of God. This event will likely be overshadowed by two other major events pertaining to Paul VI. One is, of course, the fiftieth anniversary of Paul’s prophetic encyclical letter On the Regulation of Birth, known around the world by its incipit, Humanae vitae. The encyclical, which cut through the error and confusion of its age and ours like lightning, remains a central point in the ongoing struggle against modernism and liberalism in the Church. The other event is the likely canonization of Paul by Pope Francis sometime this fall. However, it would be a shame to let the fiftieth anniversary of the Credo of the People of God pass unremarked.

Paul’s Credo of the People of God was, according to Paul himself, an act by the successor of Peter to confirm his brethren in the faith of Peter. Confronted with the explosion of heresy in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, especially the infamous Dutch Catechism, Paul declared a Year of Faith, which culminated in the proclamation of the Credo of the People of God. Seen in this context, it is clear that Paul, exercising solemnly his office as Supreme Pontiff, sought to combat the errors of the age with his profession of faith. Additionally, in preparing and proclaiming a profession of faith, Paul was making good a significant failure of the Second Vatican Council. Continue reading “Paul VI: Credo of the People of God”

On the City of God Against the Pagans

by Alan Fimister

The doctrine of the two cities, which finds its greatest expression in the work we are to examine today, is not the construct of some theologian, however great. It is an essential element in God’s revelation to mankind, vital to the correct understanding of the personal and institutional history of each individual and society and of every book of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The great Pope Leo XIII frequently alluded to this doctrine in his encyclical letters, not least in the thundering opening of Humanum Genus promulgated in 1884.

“The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, ‘through the envy of the devil,’ separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other for those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God. This twofold kingdom St. Augustine keenly discerned and described after the manner of two cities, contrary in their laws because striving for contrary objects; and with a subtle brevity he expressed the efficient cause of each in these words: ‘Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching to contempt of self, a heavenly one.’ At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault.”

Continue reading “On the City of God Against the Pagans”

The City of God: An Introduction

by Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

1. Occasion and Intention

The sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 shook the Roman world to its foundations. Although Rome was no longer the residence even of the Western Emperor, nevertheless she was the symbol of the civilized world. To many Romans this catastrophe seemed to be a refutation of Christianity. Clearly, the Christian God was unable or unwilling to protect the city in which he was now honored. Christianity was unable to fulfill the function that political theology assigned to it of assuring the safety of the empire, and especially of that city from which the empire had originally sprung.[1] Saint Augustine of Hippo responded to this argument in The City of God.

The City of God is a comprehensive attack on pagan political theology and political philosophy. In elaborating his attack, Augustine is led to expound the full scope of the Christian understanding of reality— of God and the world, and the way in which God’s providential plan is realized in history. The resulting “magnum opus et arduum,” great and arduous work,[2] manages to cover every conceivable subject, but always with the main aim in view. The first ten books refute the idea that the pagan gods ought to be worshiped— whether for the prosperity of this life (I-V) or of the life to come (VI-X)— the remaining 12 books treat the origins (XI-XIV), development (XV-XVIII), and ends (XIX-XXII) of two cities: the City of God and the Earthly City.[3] It would be a mistake, however, to see the treatment of the two cities in the second half as straying from the original intention of the work.[4] The most convincing refutation of the charge against the Christians is to show that far from being of detriment to civil life, Christianity is true civil life, true politics.

In order to understand Augustine’s argument it is necessary to recall some of the main features of the pagan political philosophy and political theology that he was attacking, and how that political theology interacted with Christianity before Augustine. In this introduction I will therefore give a sketch of those themes (2-3), before outlining the main line of Augustine’s argument (4).

The City of God was a key influence on the development of Catholic teaching on the relation of spiritual and temporal power, and on the common good of political society. The great medieval popes and theologians constantly referred to Augustine, or paraphrased him in their exposition of these themes. Modern interpreters have, however, tended to deny that the medieval developments were really Augustinian, arguing that Augustine’s own position would imply a much less “integralist” view of political life. I will defend the medieval interpretations, giving reasons for thinking that the medieval “Political Augustinianism” was really a development from premises to be found in The City of God (5-6). Finally I will offer a detailed outline of the structure of the work (7).

2. Pagan Political Theology

In the Greek city-states the worship of the gods was deeply interwoven with social and political life. Political authority was as religious as it was political, because, as Ittai Gradel puts it, the dichotomy “was unknown to, or at least irrelevant to, traditional Graeco-Roman worship.”[5] Historians have recognized this as far back as Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges’s enduring classic, The Ancient City, first published in 1864. Fustel argued that in the early phase of the development of ancient cities gods were seen as being tied to specific cities, “patriotism was piety, and exile excommunication[.]”[6] Important religious rites were performed by the rulers themselves to ensure the security, peace, and prosperity of the city. In short, “religion, law, and government were confounded, and had been but a single thing under three different aspects.”[7] Fustel’s interpretation of the evidence has of course been qualified in various ways by later historians, but his basic insight into the unity of the religious and the political has only been confirmed.

The character of ancient civic religion was slowly modified by the development of philosophy, which debunked primitive myths, as well as social factors such as increased trade and political alliances.[8] But this did not lead to a separation of religion and politics. Aristotle still considered worship to be an essential function of the πόλις, the city: “Fifthly, or rather first, there must be a care of religion, which is commonly called worship.”[9] To Aristotle the independent city-state or πόλις was the complete human community, in which the goal of human life was to be attained. Politics, the art of directing the πόλις, was therefore an architectonic activity to which all other human activities were ordered. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that since politics directs all the other activities of man, its end must be the end for the sake of which those other activities pursue their ends. Political philosophy, therefore, is chiefly concerned with understanding the final end and highest good achievable by human action.[10] The point can be difficult for modern readers, accustomed to a liberal, procedural understanding of the state that sees the end of life as being a private matter. For Aristotle, as for much of classical philosophy, the end of life was a public matter. And therefore, religion had to be fully integrated into politics.

The early religion of the city of Rome was similar to that of the Greek cities. Through the development of Roman power over large swaths of the Mediterranean world, and through the influence of Greek philosophy, it was slowly modified. But the function of divine worship continued to largely to the securing of political/imperial success. As John Scheid puts it, “the Romans regarded the gods as earthly partners maintaining relations with mortals with an eye toward reciprocal earthly benefits.”[11] Thus the word religio, which we tend to translate with “religion” meant reverence not only towards the gods, but also towards human superiors.[12] The Romans considered themselves to be particularly pious, and the city cult of Rome was “an integral part of the Roman constitution.”[13] The saw in it an important reason for their spectacular military successes. In the Aeneid, the national epic that he wrote for Rome, Virgil describes Rome as having a divine mission to give the whole world the order of law: “totum sub leges mitteret orbem;”[14] to impose peace by crushing the proud and sparing the weak: “pacique imponere morem, / parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.”[15] Roman imperialism was supposed to preserve what was best about the Greek philosophical ideal of the city-state— concern with the good of the citizens— the empire was still nominally the res publica, the common good of the people. And it was to overcome the petty particularism of individual cities by realizing the Stoic ideal of a universal society of all rational beings. Virgil saw a certain tension remaining between those two elements, since the scale of imperial life seemed to render the sort of political participation that the Greek tradition saw as an essential element of human happiness impossible. But for Virgil too, politics was the architectonic art, in which religion was included.[16]

As polytheists, the Romans respected the civic religion of other cities that came under their sway. Everyone was to worship the gods of their ancestors. But Romans were not allowed to worship foreign gods, unless their worship had been ordered by the senate, since this implied disrespect for the gods of Rome.[17] The Senate tended to order new cults only under the pressure of crisis. Thus, when the Roman gods seemed to be too weak to defend Rome against Carthage in the Second Punic War, the Senate decided to import the Phrygian goddess Cybale.[18] Religions without the ancestral sanction of a respectable city, however, were looked at with mistrust. Oriental sects associated with ecstatic disorder, insubordination of the lower classes, sexual immorality, and cannibalism were looked on with special disapproval.[19] In imperial times,[20] the offering of sacrifices to the emperor’s genius, or to the emperor himself, was seen as “the token of loyalty to the Imperial house.”[21]

3. Christianity and Caesar Before Augustine

Roman officials looked with suspicion on the movement of the Christians, whose founder had been a criminal executed by a Roman governor, and whose adherents were initially found mostly among the lower classes. Pliny the Younger, in his correspondence with the Emperor Trajan, writes that his custom when persons are accused of being Christian is to ask them three times whether they are, and if they persist in claiming that they are Christians he puts them to death: “For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished.”[22] He considers their religion a “depraved and extravagant superstition,” but does not actively seek them out, and ignores anonymous denunciations.[23] Anyone who denied that he was a Christian, and proved it by offering incense to the emperor, was discharged.[24] Trajan approved Pliny’s method of proceeding, and his letter can be taken as having legal weight.[25]

The Christians reacted to the attitude of the Roman officials by stressing that they were loyal to the emperor in all things, paying him taxes and praying for him, but they would not pray to him.[26] The distinction made little sense to the Roman officials, for whom, as noted above, the difference between honor paid to gods and honor paid to powerful humans did not differ in kind.[27]

Christian apologists were, however, able to make use of the rational approach to the divine in classical philosophy to argue for the plausibility of the Christian God as a transcendent and unique principle on which reality depended. Thus, as time went on, Christianity came to be seen as a locus of skepticism towards the irrationality of traditional pagan religion. By the time of Constantine, Christianity had adherents among the educated elite, as well as among the poor.[28]

A turning point in the history of the relation of Christianity to worldly power was the conversion of the Emperor Constantine (c. 272 – 337).[29] The Christians formed only about 10% of the population of the empire, but in a Christian catechumen emperor they found a powerful patron, who assured them legal rights, built them churches, and gave them an unprecedented prestige. Christian writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea greeted him as a kind of savior who had honored God and the Church and “destroyed all polytheistic error,” and therefore deserved to receive the reward of a prosperous reign on earth, and eternal glory in Heaven.[30] Constantine’s conversion seems to have been sincere.[31] His abolition of pagan sacrifices at state functions not only opened up the way for Christians to seek public office, it also dealt a massive blow to Roman political theology.[32] And yet, of course, Constantine was inclined to think of Christianity in terms borrowed from pagan political theology: the worship of the true God would assure the prosperity of the empire.[33]

Constantine’s successors also saw Christianity’s role as being analogous to that of the gods in Roman civic religion. This lead at times to tension with Church leaders. Christian bishops were happy to take imperial help in suppressing heresy and preserving Church unity,[34] but they also thought that the Church should be able to criticize worldly power. As Martin Rhonheimer argues, they developed two principles for the relation of Christianity to imperial power: first, “the primacy of the spiritual over the earthly/worldly affairs,” and second, “the ordering of all earthly/worldly affairs to the heavenly and eternal.”[35]

An important figure here was Augustine’s friend St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340 – 397). In 390, when the Emperor Theodosius I ordered a massacre to punish the murder of magistrates in a riot, Ambrose sent him an astonishing rebuke (Epistle 51), calling him to repentance, and threatening him (in thinly veiled terms) with excommunication if he refused to do penance.[36] Subsequent generations were to see this as an inspiring example of the primacy of the spiritual. As Hugo Rahner put it, the letter, “remains for all time a monument of courage in the face of autocracy, a hymn to strength of conscience and liberty of spirit.”[37]

Already six years earlier, in a letter to the young emperor Valentinian, Ambrose had forcefully argued that the Christian emperor is a servant of God, and must promote the true religion. He must be “zealous for the true faith,” and not give equal rights to error. Political justice cannot be reduced to a balance of interests in which various influential groups are conceded something of what they want. Rather, justice consists in giving what is truly due to each, especially in giving the one, true God what is His due, by promoting Christian worship and suppressing pagan idolatry.[38]

4. True Civil Life

The main theme of The City of God is that the true “city,” the complete community, in which the highest end of human life is attained, is not the ancient free πόλις, but rather the community of those who love God. The true eternal city that will grant peace and unity to the world is not Rome, but rather the community of Christ. This community is hidden now, living by faith in the fleeting course of time, but it will be revealed at the last judgement when it will rejoice in final victory and peace. Already now it is submitting the whole world to a new law: the law of love and grace. The City of God is the true res publica, because she is united in the love of the true supreme and common good of all, God Himself. The love of this true good is unifying because it is not competitive, it is not diminished by being shared:

For a person’s possession of the good is by no means diminished when another comes or continues to share in it. On the contrary, goodness is a possession that spreads out more and more widely insofar as those who share it are united in undivided love. In fact, anyone who is unwilling to share this possession will find that he does not possess it at all, but, the more he is able to love the one who shares it with him, the greater he will find that his own possession of it becomes.[39]

Rome, in contrast, is not a true city or a true res publica at all. It is an instantiation of the rebellious anti-city that has since the beginning opposed the City of God: the Earthly City. This city is founded on “the love of self, even to the point of contempt for God.”[40] In his relentless polemic against Rome, Augustine shows that her claims to serving the common good were mere pretense. Roman imperialism did not serve the true good of its subjects, but rather the love of praise (amor laudis) and the lust for domination (libido dominandi) of its leaders. These passions are destructive of true human community, because they are by nature competitive— to have the glory of great praise presupposes that others receive less praise, and to dominate many demands many who are dominated. Thus, Romulus murdered Remus, so that the whole glory of founding Rome could be his alone.[41]

Cicero had defined the res publica as the common good of a people who are bound together “juris consensu et utilitatis communione” (“by a common sense for what is right and a community of interest”).[42] But, Augustine asks, how can there be a common sense for what is right (jus) when there is no justice? Justice is, after all, to give each his due (i.e. his “right”). A truly common sense for what is right would therefore mean that perfect justice was being done. But in the Rome justice was undermined at its very root, because Rome did not give God his due, because the Romans did not give themselves to God who created them.[43] Therefore Rome was not truly a res publica at all. Its civic life was turned into a mockery by that fundamental injustice, because, as Rowan Williams puts it, “a social practice which impedes human beings from offering themselves to God in fact denies that central impulse in human nature which Augustine defined as the unquenchable desire for God and his truth.”[44] Roman politics was therefore not truly politics, but anti-politics. Roman imperialists had claimed that Rome’s rule of her subjects was just because it was advantageous to them, like the rule of the soul over the body. But, if the souls of the Romans did not serve God, then there was no legitimacy to the rule of their souls over their bodies, or of their city over other cities.[45]

The civic virtues of the Romans were therefore in a fundamental sense vices. They were able in some sense to subordinate the passions to reason, but since reason itself was enslaved the love of praise and the lust of domination, the civic courage and devotions of the Romans was ultimately anti-civic. Since, however, on Augustine’s view evil has no independent being, but is always only a misdirecting of the good, it must therefore render and unwilling tribute to the good by imitating it. Thus, the Roman virtues bear a certain resemblance to true virtue, and the earthly peace that Roman virtues established is an imitation of true peace. Thus, in a less strict sense, Rome was a res publica, a group of persons united by “common agreement on the objects of their love.”[46]

Augustine can therefore understand the relation between the true peace of the City of God, and the imitation peace of the Earthly City as the relation between a Platonic form and its image in the world of change. The purpose of such images is to point the “receptive soul” to “what lies beyond.”[47] Thus Augustine holds up the Roman virtues as an example to be emulated by the citizens of the City of God.[48] Indeed, in the greatest of the Romans, Marcus Regulus, the pagan semblance of virtue comes so close to true virtue that it almost achieves it: “a paganism on the point of over-coming itself, of an earthly city in process of becoming—but it is impossible—a heavenly city.”[49]

The citizens of the City of God make a certain use of the earthly peace, and directs it toward the true peace of Heaven.[50] Here Augustine counters the pagan suspicion that loyalty to the City of God would undermine concern for the common good of visible cities like Rome.[51] On the contrary, he argues, it is of great advantage for the earthly peace if the rulers are Christians, since they understand what true virtue is.[52] They understand that true virtue cannot be attained by human effort but only received by the repentant who submit to Christ.[53] They use the sword to restrain evil-doers, but moderately; they are “slow to punish and quick to pardon,”[54] because they understand that “the just society is penitential.”[55] Above all, they use their power to “spread the worship of God as much as possible.”[56] Augustine praises Christian emperors such as Constantine and Theodosius for living according to such principles.[57] But even they were not able to achieve true peace on earth. True peace is to be found only in Heaven. And therefore, God does not always give earthly prosperity to Christian emperors for “no one should be Christian except for the sake of eternal life.”[58]

Here Augustine strikes at the very heart of ancient political theology. True religion does not exist for the sake of securing the transitory order of this world, but rather for the sake of building up a city that will only be realized in eternity. Since earthly cities are not the highest goods, Christians are not committed to preserving them at any cost. A Christian ruler will therefore not suspend the ordinary rules of right and wrong (for example by killing innocents) even if the survival of the city depends on it. But this radicalization of the Socratic principle that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit it, does not subordinate the political to some “private” moral concern; rather it subordinates the uncertain fortunes of earthly politics to the common good of a better city whose advantage can never be served by injustice.

5. The Question of Political Augustinianism

The City of God was a key influence on medieval theories of the relation of the two powers, and particularly on the development of theories of the plenitude of power of the pope. It tended to be interpreted in a very particular way. The City of God came to be more and more identified with the visible Church and the pope as its visible head. And since no justice could exist except in the City of God, political powers could only be just if they recognized the authority of the visible Church. As R.W. Dyson puts it:

The political community can become a moral community, a community in which justice is present; but it can do so only through submission to the authority of the visible Church: an authority not subject to the deficiencies that infect the institutions created by fallen men.[59]

This was the principle from which the teaching of the papal plenitude of power was to be developed. In the 20th century, Msgr. Henri-Xavier Arquillière was to dub this medieval use of Augustine “political Augustinianism.” Arquillière argued that while Augustine’s later followers were to go much further than Augustine himself in subordinating temporal power to the hierarchy of the visible Church, Augustine’s own pessimism about nature and insistence that true justice could only be found through grace were the seeds from which the medieval developments sprung.[60]

There has been much debate about the extent to which “political Augustinianism” was really developed out of Augustine’s own thought. Many have seen it as “the reverse of true Augustinism.”[61] Augustine’s actual principles, they argued, imply something more like the modern separation of church and state. R. A. Markus, building on the work of Henri-Irénée Marrou, gave a sustained account of this position in his landmark study Saeculum. According to Markus, Augustine’s comprehensive refutation of political theology leaves no room for a Christian re-sacralization of political power:

Augustine’s attack on the ‘sacral’ conception of the Empire liberated the Roman state, and by implication, all politics, from the direct hegemony of the sacred. Society became intrinsically ‘secular’ in the sense that it is not as such committed to any particular ultimate loyalty. It is the sphere in which different individuals with different beliefs and loyalties pursue their common objectives in so far as they coincide. His ‘secularisation’ of the realm of politics implies a pluralistic, religiously neutral civil community. Historically, of course, such a society lay entirely beyond the horizons of Augustine’s world.[62]

Markus is not of course arguing that Augustine himself was a modern liberal, but rather that his idea of the saeculum as the passing age in which the City of God and the Earthly City live mixed together, and must cooperate on practical penultimate concerns, implies a sort of pluralism that was only to be realized centuries later, after a long detour through a Medieval Christendom that was really a betrayal of true Augustinianism.

Markus’s liberal reading of Augustine has itself been contentiously debated. A particularly insistent critic is John Milbank, who argues that Markus’s reading is “almost totally erroneous.”[63] Milbank appeals that far from implying that worldly politics ought to be individualistic and pluralistic, Augustine is actually criticizing Roman politics for being too individualistic.[64] Appealing to the sort of reading that I have been offering in this section of the City of God as truly fulfilling the Roman civil ideals that Rome herself was not able to realize, Milbank argues that Augustine is indeed calling for social and political life to be integrated into the Church. Christian rulers will use political force for the ends of the Church, coercion will become “pastoral” coercion.[65]

Milbank thus moves back in the direction of Arquillière’s political Augustinianism thesis.[66] Other thinkers associated with Milbank’s “Radical Orthodoxy” movement, however, have developed Milbank’s reading in a direction which, while opposite to Markus’s, is nevertheless equally opposed to “political Augustinianism.” Thus, William T. Cavanaugh reads Augustine in a Christian anarchist direction. Worldly, coercive power belongs in the Earthly City which is always in conflict with the Heavenly City. The citizens of the Heavenly City should reject the coercive political projects of the age, and live in an anticipatory counter-city that serves as a perpetual sign of contradiction to earthly powers.[67] Cavanaugh of course admits that Augustine countenanced the use of coercive measures by the city of God,[68] nevertheless, Cavanaugh wants to insist that coercive government and the peaceful city of the Church cannot be integrated into one society with a Gelasian division of duties; coercive government will always remain outside the City of God and opposed to her.[69] It is therefore hard to see, how, on Cavanaugh’s reading, Augustine’s endorsement of the use of political power for spiritual ends is consistent with his principles.

R.W. Dyson’s careful analysis of the relation of Augustine’s texts to “political Augustinianism” seems to me more convincing. Although Dyson calls the medieval reception Augustine “selective and tendentious,”[70] nevertheless he shows how Augustine’s principles are open to development in the medieval direction. One might say, Dyson argues, that Augustine “did not follow his theological and metaphysical principles through to their most obvious conclusions.”[71] He illustrates this by references to Augustine’s correspondence with Roman officials. Augustine suggests that the governors rule over bodily life, while he as bishop has the rule of the life of the soul.[72] Augustine’s relations with Roman governors in Africa was not a competitive one, and in trying to enlist their help for his aims, he writes as though they were his equals in a different order. But it is clear that for Augustine the soul is superior to the body, and therefore the relation between bishops and governors is “asymmetrical.”[73] In a changed situation, therefore, in which disputes arose between rulers and bishops it was logical for the “political Augustinian” position to emerge. In other words, Arquillière’s thesis still stands.

Dyson notes that what was just 70 years after Augustine that Pope Gelasius I wrote his famous letter Famuli vestrae pietatis (also known as Duo sunt), which already drew “political Augustinian” conclusions from premises taken from Augustine.[74] Indeed, Dyson calls the Gelasian Dyarchy “Augustinian/Gelasian principle,” since “Augustine is effectively the originator of the view that historians more usually associate with Pope Gelasius I.”[75] Political Augustinianism is thus identical to the “Gelasian Dyarchy,” which would continue to be taught in the most solemn manner by subsequent popes, and it amounts to what I have called “integralism.”[76]

6. Is Man by Nature Political?

Now, Arquillière thought that political Augustinianism was a bad thing. Augustine, he argues, did not distinguish sufficiently between nature and grace, and therefore his later followers were able to absorb the legitimate natural-law institution of political power into the Church.[77] Only the re-discovery of Aristotle in the 13th century would enable the natural character of political life to re-emerge. This argument raises serious questions. Do those 20th century theologians who allegedly made nature a mere “vacuole for grace”[78] have a true predecessor in Augustine? Or, on the other hand, did those 16th century thinkers who found in Augustine an idea of nature totally depraved by original sin find the true Augustine?

I cannot treat these questions in any great detail here. But I would like to give some indications of where an answer is to be sought by comparing Augustine with the greatest of 13th century Aristotelians: Saint Thomas Aquinas. In the great debate between extreme Augustinians and extreme Aristotelians in the 13th century, Saint Thomas refused both sides, and argued that Aristotle and Augustine are actually compatible.[79] But is his resulting synthesis truly Augustinian? Augustine does indeed speak of the Greek philosophers as discovering the natural law of right and wrong.[80] And in the praises of Regulus he portrays a virtue achieved in fallen nature that almost attains to the full being of virtue. Chad Pecknold has argued that Thomas’s understanding of the definition of virtue that he takes from Augustine— “a good quality of the mind, by which we live righteously, of which no one can make bad use, which God works in us, without us”[81]— is truly Augustinian.[82]

One way of approaching the question is to look at whether Augustine thought that political rule was rooted in man’s original nature, or was a consequence of original sin. In other words: would there have been politics if Adam had never sinned? Thomas argues that the political common good is a locus of natural perfection, and since the common good of its nature demands a ruler who directs the multitude to it, there would have been political rule even without original sin.[83] In the first objections to the article in which Thomas makes this argument, he cites a passage of The City of God that later interpreters have often used to argue that Augustine holds the opposite position: “[God] did not want a rational creature, made in his own image, to have dominion [dominari] except over irrational creatures— not man over man but man over beasts.”[84] Dominion is the word that Augustine uses for possession of slaves and private property, as well as coercive political rule, suggests that all of these have been introduced by divine providence after the fall in order to punish and restrain evil-doers. In the body of the article, however, Thomas argues that there are two kinds of rule: one for the sake of the ruler, and one for the sake of the ruled. In saying that there would have been no dominion absent original sin, Augustine was speaking only of the former kind, Thomas argues, and not the later. And Thomas refers to the immediately preceding text of The City of God as evidence:

In the household of the just person who lives by faith and is still on pilgrimage far from the heavenly city, however, even those who give commands are at the service of those whom they appear to command. For they do not give their commands out of any desire for domination but rather out of dutiful concern for others, not out of any pride in ruling but rather out of compassion in providing for others. This is what the order of nature prescribes; this is the way God created man.[85]

Robert Markus, however, argues that “this is the way God created man” refers not to the preceding text about benevolent rule, but only to the following text about God setting man over animals, rather than his fellow men.[86] He argues that Augustine really means that political life in its entirety is a result of the Fall. Man would have been social without the fall, but not political.[87] “Men are driven ‘by the laws of their nature’ to enter a social existence; but Augustine conceives this ‘natural’ society as a society of equals living in concord and subject only to God.”[88] Markus recognizes a text that presents certain problems to his position. Namely De genesi ad literam XI, 37, in which Augustine argues that women would still have been subject to their husbands before the fall, and distinguishes two sorts of subjection:

The punishment, then, given to the woman is also understood in a literal sense; and furthermore we must give consideration to the statement And you shall be subject to your husband, and he shall rule over you, to see how it can be understood in the proper sense. For we must believe that even before her sin woman had been made to be ruled by her husband and to be submissive and subject to him. But we can with reason understand that the servitude meant in these words is that in which there is a condition similar to that of slavery rather than a bond of love (so that the servitude by which men later began to be slaves to other men obviously has its origin in punishment for sin). St. Paul says, Through love serve one another. But by no means would he say, “Have dominion over one another.”[89]

Many interpreters had seen in this text the same distinction between two kinds of rule that Thomas made, and have argued that it is reasonable to presume that Augustine would have held that this sort of rule would have held in a state of innocence. But Markus argues that while we can conceive of a father directing a family without coercion, we cannot conceive of non-coercive politics. Politics he thinks is essentially coercive.

But why would Markus presume that Augustine shared his Hobbesian/Weberian understanding of politics? The reason, I think, has to do with a claim that he wants to make about freedom. “The Augustinian tradition, in excluding political authority from [the state of innocence], implied that any interference with a subject’s activities constitutes a restriction of his freedom.”[90] He goes on to argue that while Augustine had a “negative” understanding of freedom, Thomas and other Aristotelians had a “positive” understanding of freedom—in the sense given those terms by Isaiah Berlin.[91] I believe that we have here another example of Markus’s “almost totally erroneous” attempt at finding a protoliberal in Augustine. The idea of Augustine as promoting a negative concept of freedom is frankly bizarre.[92]

I am therefore in agreement with interpreters such as Otto Schilling, John Neville Figgis, and Ernest Fortin, who read Augustine as distinguishing between the sort of dominium involving coercion that is a result of the original sin, and the benevolent direction of political affairs that would have existed even in the absence of sin.[93] They can point to Augustine’s “table of peace,” in which the peace of a particular city is seen as an intermediate good between the household and the City of God:

The peace of the body is, then, the properly ordered arrangement of its parts; the peace of the irrational soul is the properly ordered satisfaction of the appetites; the peace of the rational soul is the properly ordered accord of cognition and action; the peace of body and soul together is the properly ordered life and wellbeing of a living creature; peace between mortal man and God is properly ordered obedience, in faith, under eternal law; peace among men is the properly ordered concord of mind with mind; the peace of a household is the properly ordered concord, with respect to command and obedience, of those who are living together; the peace of a city is the properly ordered concord, with respect to command and obedience, of its citizens; the peace of the heavenly city is perfectly ordered and wholly concordant fellowship in the enjoyment of God and of each other in God. The peace of all things is the tranquillity of order, and order is the arrangement of things equal and unequal that assigns to each its due place.[94]

And they can point to Civ. Dei, XV,4 where the good of earthly cities is defended as a true good.

Rightly understood, therefore, political Augustinianism does not deny the natural common good of particular cities. But it sees that the natural common good of temporal life must be healed and elevated by grace, and directed by the infused virtue of charity to the supernatural common good of the Heavenly City.[95] Grace does not destroy nature; it liberates it: “What gives birth to citizens of the earthly city is a nature vitiated by sin, and what gives birth to citizens of the heavenly city is grace liberating that nature from sin.”[96]

7. Analytical Division of the Text

Augustine himself gives us a detailed account of the structure of The City of God in his Retractions, which I quote at length:

Meanwhile, Rome was destroyed as a result of an invasion of the Goths under the leadership of King Alaric, and of the violence of this great disaster. The worshipers of many false gods, whom we call by the customary name pagans, attempting to attribute its destruction to the Christian religion, began to blaspheme the true God more sharply and bitterly than usual. And so, ‘burning with zeal for the house of God,’ I decided to write the books, On the City of God, in opposition to their blasphemies and errors. This work kept me busy for some years because many other things, which should not be deferred, interfered and their solution had first claim on me. But finally, this extensive work, On the City of God, was completed in twenty-two books.
The first five of these books refute those persons who would so view the prosperity of human affairs that they think that the worship of the many gods whom the pagans worship is necessary for this; they contend that these evils arise and abound because they are prohibited from doing so. The next five books, however, speak against those who admit that these evils have never been wanting and never will be wanting to mortals, and that these, at one time great, at another time slight, vary according to places, times, and persons; and yet they argue that the worship of many gods, whereby sacrifice is offered to them, is useful because of the life to come after death. In these ten books, then, these two false beliefs, contrary to the Christian religion, are refuted.
But lest anyone charge that we have only argued against the beliefs of others, and have not stated our own, it is just this that the second part of this work, which consists of twelve books, accomplishes; although, when there is need, both in the first ten books I state my own opinions, and, in the last twelve, I argue against those opposed to them. The first four of the following twelve books, then, deal with the origin of the two cities, one of which is of God, the other of this world; the next four books treat of their growth or progress; but the third four books, which are also the last, deal with their destined ends. And so, although the entire twenty-two books were written about both cities, yet, they have taken their title from the better one, and consequently are called, On the City of God.[97]

And in a letter to Firmus he writes:

There are twenty-two sections [quaternions]. To put all these into one whole [corpus] would be cumbersome. If you wish that two volumes [codices] be made of them, they should be so apportioned that one volume contain ten books [libros], the other twelve. For, in those ten, the empty teachings of the pagans have been refuted, and, in the remainder, our own religion has been demonstrated and defended—though, to be sure, in the former books the latter subject has been dealt with when it was more suitable to do so, and in the latter, the former.
If, however, you should prefer that there be more than two volumes, you should make as many as five. The first of these would contain the first five books, where argument has been advanced against those who contend that the worship, not indeed of gods, but of demons, is of profit for happiness in this present life. The second volume would contain the next five books, where [a stand has been taken against those] who think that, for the sake of the life which is to come after death, worship should be paid, through rites and sacrifices, whether to these divinities or to any plurality of gods whatever. The next three volumes ought to embrace four books each; for this part of our work has been so divided that four books set forth the origin of that City, a second four its progress— or, as we might choose to say, its development,— the final four its appointed ends.[98]

Those passages, together with internal evidence in The City of God itself give us the following general division of the text:[99]

Part One: Books 1 – 10: Against those who believe happiness comes from the worship of the Roman gods

1 – 5: Against those who believe that the worship of the gods leads to happiness in this life

1 – 3: The gods did not prevent moral and physical evils in Rome’s history

1: The Fall of Rome not due to conversion to Christianity. Why disasters happen.

2: Moral evils not prevented, but caused by the Gods

3: Physical disasters not prevented by the Gods

4 – 5: Roman power and glory not due to the gods, but the one God

4: Roman power is not due to the Roman gods

5: Power and glory was given by God to the Romans

6 – 10: Against those who believe that the worship of the gods leads to happiness in the life to come

6 – 7: Official Roman polytheism

6: The civil religion of Rome cannot provide eternal happiness

7: The select or principal gods of Rome cannot provide eternal happiness

8 – 10: The religion of the Platonists

8: Platonic religious philosophy and polytheism

9: Worship of good and bad demons among Platonists

10: The religion of the Platonists and the Christian religion compared

Part Two: Books 11 – 24: The origin, development and ends of the city of God and the earthly city

11 – 14: The origin of the city of God and the earthly city

11 and 12: The origin of two cities among angels

11: The origin of the city of God in the good angels; creation of a good world

12: The origin of the earthly city in the fall of the angels; the creation of man

13 and 14: The origin of two cities among men

13: The fall of man: Adam and Eve; death

14: Detailed analysis of the fall and its effects

15 – 18: The development of the two cities

15: The two cities in the first age (Adam to Noah)

16: The two cities in the second age (Noah to Abraham);

the city of God in the third age (Abraham to David)

17: The city of God in the fourth age (David to Babylonian captivity)

and the fifth age (Babylonian captivity to Christ)

18: The earthly city in the third to fifth ages;

the city of God in the sixth age (Jesus to the end-times)

19-20: The ends of the two cities

19: The supreme good and evil: definitive peace and definitive war

20: The end-times and the final judgment separates the two cities

21: The end of the earthly city: eternal damnation

22: The end of the city of God: eternal happiness


[1] See: Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), ch. 25.

[2] Augustine, Civ. Dei, I, praef.; Sancti Aurelii Augustini episcopi De civitate Dei libri XXII., ed. B. Dombart and A. Kalb, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, 5th ed. (Stuttgart-Leipzig: Teubner, 1993), 2 vols.; The City of God, trans. William Babcock, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, vols. I,6-7 (New York: New City Press, 2012).

[3] For the division of the books see section 7 below.

[4] For such a reading see, e.g.: Thomas Merton, Introduction to Augustine, The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods, The Modern Library (New York: Random House, 1993), p. xii.

[5] Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 3.

[6] Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), p. 381.

[7] Fustel, The Ancient City, p. 381.

[8] Fustel, The Ancient City, Bk. V.

[9] Aristotle, Politics VII,8 1328b 13; trans. Benjamin Jowett, in: The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York: Random House, 1941).

[10] Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, I,1-2 1094a-b; cf. Politics, I,1 1252a.

[11] John Scheid, The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome, trans. Clifford Ando (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), p. 139.

[12] Gradel, Emperor Worship, p. 4.

[13] Gradel, Emperor Worship, p. 12.

[14] Virgil, Aeneid, IV, 231, ed. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library, vol. 63 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004).

[15] Virgil, Aeneid, VI, 852-853.

[16] See: John Alvis, Divine Purpose and Heroic Response in Homer and Virgil: The Political Plan of Zeus (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), ch. 3. I would not, however, go as far Eve Adler, who argues that Virgil’s religion was a “noble lie,” an esoteric teaching meant to prop up imperial authority, but which Virgil himself did not believe: Eve Adler, Vergil’s Empire: Political Thought in the Aeneid (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003). Here it seems to me that the Victorian critic Frederic Myers’s reading of Virgil’s religion is still more convincing: F.W.H. Myers, “Virgil,” in: Essays: Classical (London: Macmillan, 1883), pp. 106-176.

[17] See: W.H.C Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2014), p. 106.

[18] Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution, p. 107.

[19] Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution, pp. 108-114.

[20] Frend sees the cult of rulers as being principally an imperial development, and as being influenced by Greek customs. Against this see Grandel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion, ch. 2, who argues that emperor worship had deep roots in republican custom.

[21] Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution, p. 118.

[22] Pliny the Younger, Ep. 10, in: Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder, Documents of the Christian Church, 3rd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 3-4, at p. 4.

[23] Pliny, Ep. 10, p.4.

[24] Pliny, Ep. 10, p.4.

[25] See: T. D. Barnes, “Legislation against the Christians,” in: The Journal of Roman Studies 58 (1968), pp. 32-50.

[26] See: Hugo Rahner, S.J., Church and State in Early Christianity, trans. Leo Donald Davis, S.J. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), p. 9.

[27] See: Gradel, Emperor Worship, pp. 1-4.

[28] See: Mark Edwards, “The Beginning of Christianization,” in: Noel Lensky (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 137-158; Gradel, Emperor Worship, pp. 368-369.

[29] A clear and concise account of Constantine’s life and reign is given by Hans A. Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2004).

[30] Eusebius, Life of Constantine, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), IV.75; p. 182.

[31] See: Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2010).

[32] Leithart, Defending Constantine, ch. 6.

[33] Leithart, Defending Constantine, pp. 84-90.

[34] See: Rhonheimer, Christentum und säkularer Staat, pp. 49, 51.

[35] Rhonheimer, Christentum und säkularer Staat, p. 46: “der Primat des Spirituellen über das Irdisch-Weltliche […] die Hinordnung alles Irdisch-Weltliche auf das Himmlische und Ewige.”

[36] Ambrose, Epistle 51; Saint Ambrose: Letters, trans. Mary Melchior Beyenka, O.P. The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, vol. 26, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954), pp. 20-26.

[37] Rahner, Church and State, p. 78.

[38] Ambrose, Epistle XVII: (accessed July 24, 2017); cf. Hans A. Pohlsander, “Victory: The Story of a Statue,” in: Historia 18 (1969), pp. 588-597.

[39] Civ. Dei XV,5; trans. Babcock.

[40] Civ. Dei XIV,28; trans. Babcock.

[41] Civ. Dei, XV,5; cf. Rowan Williams, On Augustine (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), p. 116.

[42] Civ. Dei, II,21, XIX,21, trans. Babcock.

[43] Civ. Dei, XIX,21.

[44] Williams, On Augustine, p. 112.

[45] Civ. Dei, XIX,21, 25.

[46] Civ. Dei, XIX,24; trans. Babcock.

[47] Robert W. Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo: The Christian Transformation of Political Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2005), p. 67.

[48] Civ. Dei, V,18.

[49] Pierre Manent, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic, trans. Marc Lepain (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), p. 249; cf. Chad Pecknold, “Reading St. Augustine’s City of God with St. Thomas Aquinas,” Lecture, The Thomistic Institute at Harvard, Cambridge, MA, April 27, 2017: (accessed July 24, 2017). Regulus had been a prisoner of the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians sent him to Rome to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, binding him by an oath to the gods that if he was unsuccessful he would return. Regulus, however, persuaded the Romans not to agree to the exchange, since he thought it was not conducive to Rome’s advantage. He then kept his oath, returning to Carthage to be tortured to death. Civ. Dei, I,15. For Augustine, Regulus is thus an example both of selfless devotion to the common good of Rome, and of recognition that justice towards the divine requires giving up all earthly advantages for the sake of fidelity to divinity. His virtue was, however, radically vitiated by the fact that his devotion was payed to false gods, rather than the one true God.

[50] Civ. Dei, XIX,17.

[51] See: Ernest L. Fortin, “The City of God,” in: Ever Ancient, Ever New: Ruminations on the City, the Soul, and the Church, Collected Essays, vol. 4, ed. Michael P. Foley (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), pp. 71-81, at p. 73.

[52] Civ. Dei, V,19.

[53] See: Robert Dodaro, Christ and the Just Society in the Thought of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

[54] Civ. Dei, V,24; ed. Dombart and Kalb, vol. 1, p. 237; trans. Babcock, vol. I,6, p. 178.

[55] Dodaro, Christ and the Just Society, p. 112.

[56] Civ. Dei, V,24; ed. Dombart and Kalb, vol. 1, p. 237; trans. Babcock, vol. I,6, p. 178.

[57] Civ. Dei, V,25-26.

[58] Civ. Dei, V,25; ed. Dombart and Kalb, vol. 1, p. 238; trans. Babcock, vol. I,6, p. 179.

[59] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 144.

[60] See: Michael J. S. Bruno, Political Augustinianism: Modern Interpretations of Augustine’s Political Thought (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), especially pp. 36-39.

[61] Thus Henri de Lubac, cited in: Bruno, Political Augustinianism, p. 40.

[62] R.A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of Saint Augustine, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 173.

[63] John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), p. 404.

[64] Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, p. 405.

[65] Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, pp. 410-411, 423-425.

[66] Milbank indeed argues that the “tragic” character of political life in Augustine gets glossed over in medieval Augustinianism [Theology and Social Theory, p. 425], but Arquillière would not disagree.

[67] William T. Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two: Christian Reimagining of Political Space,” in: Political Theology 7.3 (2006), pp. 299-321; cf. my paper “Integralism and Gelasian Dyarchy,” in: The Josias, March 3, 2016: (accessed July 24, 2017). In that paper I read Milbank as interpreting Augustine in a way similar to Cavanaugh; I now see that Milbank’s interpretation is actually closer to Arquillière’s.

[68] Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two,” p. 312.

[69] Cavanaugh, “From One City to Two,” p. 309.

[70] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 142.

[71] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 156.

[72] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, pp. 149-150.

[73] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 151.

[74] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 156.

[75] Dyson, St Augustine of Hippo, p. 149; cf. Rahner, Church and State, p. 138.

[76] See my paper: “Integralism and Gelasian Dyarchy.”

[77] See: Bruno, Political Augustinianism, p. 36.

[78] Steven Long, Natura Pura: On the Recovery of Nature in the Doctrine of Grace (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010).

[79] Pecknold, “Reading St. Augustine’s City of God with St. Thomas Aquinas.”

[80] Civ. Dei, II,7.

[81] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 55, a. 4; cf. Augustine, De libero arbitrio, II,19.

[82] Pecknold, “Reading St. Augustine’s City of God with St. Thomas Aquinas.”

[83] Thomas, Summa theologiae, Ia, q. 96, a. 4; cf. Paul J. Weithman, “Augustine and Aquinas on Original Sin and the Function of Political Authority,” in: Journal of the History of Philosophy 30.3 (1992), pp. 353-376.

[84] Civ. Dei, XIX,15, trans. Babcock.

[85] Civ. Dei, XIX,14-15, trans. Babcock.

[86] Markus, Saeculum, Appendix B. Markus’s reading is aided by the traditional break between chapters 14 and 15 which separates “This is what the order of nature prescribes…” from the preceding text. The chapter divisions in Civ. Dei are, however, most likely not from Augustine himself. See: Gerard O’Daly, Augustine’s City of God: A Reader’s Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 277-278.

[87] Markus, Saeculum, p. 210.

[88] Markus, Saeculum, pp. 204-205.

[89] Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, trans. John Hammond Taylor, S.J., vol. 2 (New York: The Newman Press, 1982), pp. 170-171.

[90] Markus, Saeculum, p. 229.

[91] Markus, Saeculum, pp. 229-230.

[92] See my paper: Contrasting Concepts of Freedom, presented at the conference Heute gerecht leben: Impulse zu Ordnungskonzeptionen aus katholischer, orthodoxer und schiitischer Tradition, ViQo Circle, Vienna, September 19, 2016: (accessed July 24, 2017) for a reading of Augustine as holding a strongly positive account of freedom.

[93] Otto Schilling, Die Staats- und Soziallehre des hl. Augustinus (Freibug im Breisgau: Herdersche Verlagshandlung, 1910), pp. 34-76; John Neville Figgis, The Political Aspects of S. Augustine’s ‘City of of God’ (London: Longmans, Green, and co., 1921), pp. 52-59; Fortin, “The City of God,” p. 74.

[94] Civ. Dei, XIX,13, trans. Babcock (emphasis added).

[95] See: Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., “Integralism in Three Sentences,” in: The Josias, October 17, 2016: (accessed July 24, 2017).

[96] Civ. Dei, XV,2, trans. Babcock.

[97] Augustine, The Retractions, trans. Mary Inez Bogan, RSM, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, vol. 60, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1968), II,69; pp. 209-210.

[98] Augustine, Epistle to Firmus 2*, in: The City of God: Books I-VII, trans. Demetrius B. Zema, S.J. and Gerald G. Walsh, S.J., The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, vol. 8 (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1950), pp. 399-400.

[99] The divisio textus was made by Michael Waldstein as a handout for a seminar on The City of God, International Theological Institute, Gaming, 1999. I am grateful to him for sharing it with me. I have linked the headings to the translation by Marcus Dods et al. digitalized by Project Gutenberg (vol. I, vol. II). The Dods translation is, on the whole, excellent; Dods’s grand, Victorian prose is a better equivalent to Augustine’s rhetorically polished Latin than more modern translations. The modern translations are, however, sometimes more precise. Hence my references to the Babcock translation above.


Pius XI: Mit brennender Sorge

Introductory Note

Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical on the Church and the German Reich, Mit brennender Sorge (With burning concern), is today probably most known for the circumstances under which it was brought into Germany. Composed in German—allegedly by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, then secretary of state, and Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber, longtime Archbishop of Munich—the encyclical was smuggled into Germany, distributed by the nuncio by courier, and printed in the utmost secrecy. Then, on Palm Sunday 1937, it was read out from the pulpit to German Catholics throughout the Reich. Hitler’s furious response came quickly: the Gestapo was sent out to round up those who participated in the distribution of the encyclical and to shut down the printing presses used. To Hitler and his circle, there was no mistaking what Mit brennender Sorge was: it was a declaration of war against the Reich by the Church. Continue reading “Pius XI: Mit brennender Sorge”

Benedict XV: Celeberrima evenisse

Introductory Note

Pope Benedict XV’s letter Celeberrima evenisse resulted from one of the diplomatic triumphs of his brief pontificate: the reëstablishment of diplomatic relations with Portugal. The anti-clerical revolutionaries, who in 1910 had overturned the Portuguese monarchy and established a republic, had soon passed laws on the “separation” of Church and state that in reality amounted to a programme of persecution of the Church. Monasteries and seminaries were closed, Catholic teaching in the schools was abolished, bishops were expelled from their dioceses, even the wearing of the cassock was forbidden. Pope St. Pius X vehemently protested these outrages in the encyclical Iamdudum in Lusitania. Such extreme anti-Catholic measures contributed to deep divisions in Portuguese society, and the country was torn by unrest in the years following the Revolution of 1910. By 1918 the government was ready to compromise with the Holy See, and it reëstablished diplomatic relations, asking that in return the Holy See “insist on the faithful’s fuller acceptance of the Republic.”[1]

Continue reading “Benedict XV: Celeberrima evenisse”